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Collaborating with Feynman


Muon and electron neutrinos
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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Gerald Feinberg I think his name was, at… at Columbia had done the same calculation of the mu into e plus gamma with an intermediate boson and showed that it was too, too fast and there had to be something to prevent it from… from going–which could be two different neutrinos. Then Yang and Lee noticed something very important which was that if you had two different neutrinos you could distinguish them by doing experiments in which there were neutrino beams. Now that had been considered rather impossible… that had been considered next to impossible. But they pointed out that the cross-section keeps going up until you reach the cut off that comes from an intermediate boson, but for energies lower than that the cross-section keeps rising very steeply; so that at very high energies you could actually have neutrino beams and you could detect them, you could detect reactions induced by them. So… and then of course that was done and it was confirmed that the muon neutrino was different from the electron neutrino.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: Columbia University, Gerald Feinberg, Chen Ning Yang, Tsung-Dao Lee

Duration: 1 minute, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008